I’m sitting here in what I’d like to call the SkyDome, waiting for a baseball game to break out. Corporately renamed the Rogers Centre years ago, this building has been the home of the Toronto Blue Jays since 1989. I haven’t graced its cavernous space for at least two decades. So why am I here?
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
He’s a 20-year-old Dominican Republic native who hits the cover off the ball and smiles his way through life. He was promoted to the Blue Jays on Friday … and the buzz has been immense. I want to see him.
Part of me isn’t attached to individuals. I want everyone to excel. I wish everyone well. Still, I love witnessing profound athletic achievements, where the person flies through the air like Superman or launches the baseball, golf ball or javelin. And I fantasize about being such a hero. Down deep, I know that true heroism has nothing to do with athletic achievement. It’s a matter of the heart. But still I watch.
Batting practice has just finished. I missed the Blue Jays’ version but I gazed in wonder as balls hit by the Oakland A’s soared to the outfield and beyond. Transcendent.
It’s forty minutes to game time and there might be 2000 of us here. Doesn’t the whole world want to see Vlady? Not yet, apparently. But I bet there’ll be 40,000 soon.
Almost game time. Here’s the Blue Jays’ mascot, BJ Birdy, jogging along the stands on the third base side, high-fiving kids in the front row. Cool. Here are the Blue Jays taking the field, throwing the ball around. And now … the first pitch. Fly ball to left – easy catch. We’re off!
Here comes Vlady to the plate, along with our roars. Bases loaded. Maybe a monumental moment is coming and the crowd is feeling it. But … called third strike. We boo the umpire’s decision, although we’re a hundred feet or more away. Blue Jays fans have such acute distance vision!
Brandon Drury just hit a rope to deep right centre field. I watch the arc and the outfielder sprinting back. He leaps to full extension and the ball blasts past his glove. A double. Our cheers are “moderate”. “Why is that?” I ask. It was a line drive over the head of the centerfielder. Spectacular. Well, it seems that we temper our response because Brandon is not Vlady. Sadly, I’m one of the “we”. I want the superhuman that I can pretend to be. Hmm. I need to think on this one.
We’ve completed four innings and we’re ahead 4-0. The crowd is a lot smaller than I’d hoped – maybe 20,000. And we’re quiet. Cheering seems in short supply. All those folks in a huge circular stadium, with its roof closed. Plus it’s almost winter again outside. This sport seems far more suited to a hot summer day in the sunshine. Wait a minute, though, that’s such an external factor. Surely it’s my job to create my own engagement, my own excitement. I’m just not getting the job done right now.
Vlady was up to bat a couple of innings ago and stroked a line drive straight at the second baseman. The power! Also the quick out. Just now, he walked. I’d guess the pitcher was worried about throwing him a pitch he could knock out of the park.
Someone in management is trying to rev us up through the PA system:
“Everybody Clap Your Hands!”
“Make Some Noise!”
“We Will, We Will Rock You!”
And through the speakers we hear a trumpet playing “Charge!”
Still, we are remarkably flat. Me included.
This feels like a whole bunch of nothing with a hit or two sprinkled in to keep me from nodding off. Hockey has far more action, and basketball has cheering whenever the home team scores a basket, as well as awesome dancers. But this … the A’s player just struck out and I barely noticed, being preoccupied with my thumbs.
I’m not creating any oomph here and that feels all right. There’s no law saying that I need to love baseball. I’m going to create other events in my life to get the juices flowing.
For now, though … nighty night.